As an organization dedicated to peace and security for Israel – and committed to the belief that Israel has a right to exist and that its legitimacy as a state is beyond question – APN has wrestled with the challenge posed by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS). We have studied both the BDS movement and the efforts to combat it. We have listened closely to arguments and narratives of BDS proponents and detractors. And while APN firmly opposes BDS targeting Israel, we have concluded that many anti-BDS efforts are misguided and counter-productive.
We believe that the most effective way to challenge BDS is to recognize and reject the pro-settlement, anti-peace policies that feed it. Such an approach starts with drawing a clear distinction between Israel and the settlements, as APN has long endorsed. We have underscored this distinction with:
- our longstanding call to boycott settlements and settlement products;
- our support for other activism targeted squarely at settlements and the occupation;
- our active and vocal support for European policies differentiating between Israel and settlements; and
- our leadership in the fight against efforts to exploit concerns about BDS in order to legislate U.S. support for settlements, both in Congress and in state legislatures across the country.
Most recently, on May 19, 2016, APN came out with a new policy opposing virtually all anti-BDS legislation, whether or not it is also pro-settlements. Our position is grounded in our rejection of any legislation related to Israel that violates the U.S. Constitution – arguments we expanded upon in our “explainer,” laying out the problems with the anti-BDS Executive Order signed June 5, 2016, by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
We took this position because even as we unequivocally reject BDS targeting Israel, we likewise reject, unequivocally, the premise that fighting BDS requires – or justifies – eroding constitutionally-protected rights to free speech and political protest. We know that attacking these rights will actually have the opposite effect, strengthening the most hardline elements in the BDS movement and fueling popular support for BDS tactics. We stand proudly alongside the ACLU and a range of other civil rights organizations and legal experts in deeming these anti-BDS measures unconstitutional. We also stand, most recently, with the Los Angeles Times editorial board’s unequivocal repudiation of unconstitutional anti-BDS measures. We also stand with longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, who back in 2012 wrote:
“As Jews, we know better than most how devastating words of hate can be. But we also know how equally devastating can be a process in which free expression is restricted under the guise of avoiding certain kinds of hate.”
APN has consistently been the first – and often the only – mainstream U.S. Jewish organization taking these principled, intellectually honest positions regarding BDS. We refuse to sacrifice what we know is right – as Americans and as supporters of a democratic, pluralistic, healthy future for Israel – for what is easy or politically expedient. We are enormously proud of this record, which is grounded in the courage of our pro-Israel, pro-peace convictions.